Whitening: Gateway to Doing More Ideal Dentistry

Whitening: Gateway to Doing More Ideal Dentistry

Recently, I wrote a blog post about five specific strategies that can help your practice grow in a soft economy. The first strategy I recommended was to make whitening a core element of your practice. In this blog post, I will provide more details.

I am a firm believer that whitening is an under-utilized service in dentistry! The fact is, people want and value whiter teeth. In a recent USA Today survey, 85% of the people surveyed listed ‘make then whiter’ when asked how they would like to improve their teeth. WOW, think about that for a minute. 85% of the people want whiter teeth! The great news is that we have the technology to give patients what they want.

The reason I am so excited about whitening is because of the ‘Gateway Effect’. Patients become more interested in their teeth after they whiten. Many of our cosmetic and complex restorative cases started out as a whitening case. Patients will often tell Dr. Nielson that they like the new whiter color of their teeth and then they start asking about other issues. Because of this phenomenon, I like to think of whitening as a gateway service.

Here are three specific recommendations to increase your whitening volume:

1)  Take a Shade Match on All Hygiene Patients     
This simple technique is the single most effective tip to increase your whitening volume. Make taking a shade match part of your update routine. Here are the specific verbal skills we use:

Hygienist: “Mrs. Jones, I am going to start our appointment today by taking a shade match of your current tooth color. The reason I am doing this is that we now know that tooth color changes over time. It tends to darken with age. I would like to have a shade today for our records.”

Next, the hygienist shows the patient their shade on a shade guide that is chromatically arranged from dark to light. That’s it. That is usually all that is needed to open a dialog about whitening.

2)  Value Price Whitening    
I don’t believe in giving away whitening, but we do value price whitening as a means of making it more affordable and accessible for patients. We currently charge $195 for in-office (including custom trays), $95 for take-home with custom trays, and $40 for over the counter (OTC). We use Ultradent Products (Boost for in-office, Opalescence for take-home and Trés White for OTC). With this pricing strategy we make a small profit on each whitening procedure but more importantly, we do way more whitening!

3)  Offer Lifetime Whitening  
In-office and take-home whitening patients all have custom trays. Consider offering lifetime whitening as long as they keep their recommended hygiene appointments! Provide them with a syringe of whitening gel as an incentive to keep their hygiene appointments. This is a real win/win. Patients get to touch up their smile and you provide them with an incentive to keep their appointments. When you combine the value pricing strategy with the offer of lifetime whitening, you are providing your patients with an awesome value that is much appreciated in the soft economy.

Consider the recommendations above to make whitening a core element of your practice. We tell our patients that one of our goals is to help them have the whitest, brightest smiles in Arizona. We know this resonates with 85% of them. I like those odds!! Keep smiling!